News Column

Bak USA, Liazon Among Eight New START-UP NY Companies Partnering with UB

July 28, 2014

BUFFALO, N.Y., July 28 -- The State University of New York at Buffalo issued the following news release:

Eight additional companies - including Bak USA, an assembler of affordable electronic tablets - will relocate on or near the University at Buffalo campuses through their participation in START-UP NY, the innovative tax incentive program established by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Cuomo announced the companies today during a presentation at the university.

During the next five years, the companies anticipate hiring 659 employees and investing nearly $10 million in capital improvements. Two of the companies, Liazon Corporation and Bak USA, will create 500 and a minimum of 100 jobs, respectively.

"START-UP NY brings together the best of New York, from our world-class universities and colleges, our highly-trained and talented workforce, all our beautiful natural assets, combined with the added benefit of offering businesses the opportunity to operate completely tax free," Cuomo said. "After years of being ignored by Albany, the Buffalo region is experiencing a rebirth and a new energy like has not been seen in decades, and it is exciting to see START-UP NY contributing to Western New York's economic revitalization."

Bak USA will open its U.S.-based headquarters at Compass East, the former Sheehan Memorial Hospital, at 425 Michigan Ave. on Buffalo'sEast Side. It will occupy 10,000 square feet on the top floor and start recruiting and training employees by the end of September.

Local company Liazon Corporation, a provider of private online benefits exchanges, is expanding in its new headquarters in the Fairmont Creamery building, 199 Scott St., in Buffalo.

The other companies announced today range from a developer of an anti-cancer drug to a manufacturer of direct-to-metal 3-D printers. Two of the companies are relocating to Buffalo from other cities and the others are local start-ups or are existing businesses that are expanding under the START-UP NY program.

Each of the companies has strong ties to the university's academic and research strengths and each will offer opportunities to students in the form of internships, scholarships and jobs.

"This is an incredibly exciting time to be in Buffalo as our university and region work together to build a strong knowledge economy that is creating vibrant opportunities in life sciences research, health care, advanced manufacturing, data analytics, biotechnology and many other high-impact fields," said UB President Satish K. Tripathi.

"Clearly, businesses and entrepreneurs around the world are taking notice, and the governor's START-UP NY program plays a vital role in harnessing this interest to bring new prosperity to our region and state. UB is proud to partner with these eight innovative companies, and we look forward to the new opportunities these relationships will bring for our students, faculty and community."

With its relocation to Buffalo, Bak USA is poised to become one of the first companies in the world to produce own-branded electronic tablets outside Asia. It has selected Buffalo as its global headquarters for local production and roll-out of its international Tablet PC Franchise Program.

The company conservatively projects hiring 50 operators and 13 staff members in its first year of operation, with the goal of producing 80,000 tablets in its first 12 months.

Bak's founders, Ulla and JP Bak, longtime entrepreneurs and Danish attorneys, will base the Buffalo operation on the unique concept they created as part of their activities in Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010. The Danish couple established Surtab SA in Port-au-Prince, where local workers have been trained to produce Tablet PCs with the dual goal of well-paid jobs for Port-au-Prince residents, while also producing affordable, durable tablets that bridge the educational digital gap.

The Baks place socially responsible business practices as a high priority by hiring and training highly motivated individuals from communities in need. Their goals include paying workers a living wage, nurturing staff loyalty, embracing racial and gender equality and re-investment in local communities.

Bak USA was attracted to Buffalo because of START-UP NY and the opportunity to partner with UB through collaborative research and student-training programs. Bak's interest in Buffalo and its relocation to the region was coordinated by Buffalo Niagara Enterprise (BNE) and Phillips Lytle, a premier regional law firm that is serving as general counsel for Bak USA.

"The START-UP NY program's substantial benefits, our newly forged ties with the University at Buffalo, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise and the law firm of Phillips Lytle have converged to make the 'produced by Bak in USA' operation competitive in the global market," said Ulla Bak.

"It is our goal to establish Buffalo as a leading producer and distributor of tablet PC devices outside of China, by providing affordable, reliable and secure devices to governments, developing international communities, businesses, students and individuals not only in the U.S. but among other places, such as Africa," said JP Bak.

"Phillips Lytle is happy to be part of the re-shoring effort to bring the assembly of electronic devices back into the U.S.," said David P. Flynn, a partner in the Buffalo-based law firm.

BNE President and CEO Thomas Kucharski pointed to multiple reasons why Bak USA is a great success story for the region.

"Advanced manufacturing and foreign direct investment opportunities are priorities for our region and important elements of BNE's strategic outlook," he said. "Becoming one of the first PC tablet producers anywhere in the U.S., accompanied by such meaningful job creation and investment in our urban core, reinforces the value of this industry cluster and the fact that programs like START-UP NY can help Buffalo Niagara successfully compete in the global marketplace."

In June, the governor announced an inaugural group of eight companies partnering with UB in START-UP NY, which stands for SUNY Tax-free Areas to Revitalize and Transform Upstate NY. The statewide program aims to spur economic development by enabling universities to identify areas where new and expanding businesses can operate for 10 years without paying New York State business, corporate, income, sales or property taxes, or franchise fees.

In total, the 16 companies partnering with UB anticipate creating 863 jobs and at the outset will occupy 51,446 square feet among the 276,577 square feet of space designated tax-free zones on or near the university's North, South and Downtown campuses.

The eight companies announced today are:

Bak USA Inc.

Type of Company: Start-up company

Capital Investment: $840,000

START-UP NY Location: Compass East

Square Footage: 10,075

Jobs: A minimum of 100

Bak USA is an assembler of tablet PC devices primarily marketed to Third World countries for educational purposes. Bak intends to engage UB engineering students in a senior design course, which will provide students with hands-on experience and help the company advance product development and efficiency. The company also intends to collaborate with the UB School of Management'sCenter for Entrepreneurial Leadership in development of social entrepreneurship programs and activities.

Liazon Corporation

Type of Company: Existing business expanding in Western New York

Capital Investment: $4,798,092

START-UP NY Location: Fairmont Creamery

Square Footage: 27,324

Jobs: 500

Liazon is a provider of private online benefits exchanges. Alignment with UB: The company will recruit UB graduates with degrees in management information systems, business, accounting and marketing. Liazon will pursue research collaborations and curriculum development with UB faculty in the areas of behavioral economics, statistics, psychology, data analytics and health care.

Appistry Inc.

Type of Company: Existing company attracted from St. Louis

Capital Investment: $2,450,000

START-UP NY Location: UB's New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences

Square Footage: 175

Jobs: 8

Appistry partners with premier research hospitals and biotech companies to develop diagnostics and analyze genomic data using high-performance computing and the company's patented bioinformatics technologies. Alignment with UB: Appistry will co-locate in UB's New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences and collaborate with UB researchers. The company will provide internships to graduate students in bioinformatics.

Biologichem LLC.

Type of Company: Start-up company

Capital Investment: $75,000

START-UP NY Location: UB's Baird Research Park

Square Footage: 438

Jobs: 4

Biologichem designs and produces value-added chemical products primarily for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Alignment with UB: Biologichem will be a tenant within the UB STOR incubator at the Baird Research Park. The company recently hired a graduate of UB's doctoral program in chemistry and will collaborate with UB faculty in product research and development. Biologichem will continue to contract with UB's Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Center for research testing and expertise.

CangetBioTekpharma LLC.

Type of Company: Existing business expanding in Western New York

Capital Investment: $100,000

START-UP NY Location: UB's New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences

Square Footage: 150

Jobs: 6

CangetBioTekpharma is an anti-cancer drug developer that identified a water-insoluble novel drug that can improve outcomes for advanced late-stage metastatic/relapse colon cancer, among other cancers. Alignment with UB: CangetBioTekpharma has benefited from collaborations with UB's Center for Advanced Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology (UB CAT) and intends to further collaborate with UB faculty on product development. The company will co-locate at UB's New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences. The company's founder and chief science officer is a faculty member at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Clinical Support Services Inc.

Type of Company: Existing business expanding in Western New York

Capital Investment: $275,000

START-UP NY Location: UB Gateway Building

Square Footage: 484

Jobs: 16

Clinical Support Services is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company in the health care field providing medication management software to self-insured companies and to the insurance industry. Alignment with UB: Clinical Support Services will employ interns and hire graduates from UB's School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. The company will continue to provide guest speakers for UB's Life Sciences Commercialization Lecture Series.

IFYE Association of the USA Inc.

Type of Company: Existing company attracted from Broomfield, Colorado

Capital Investment: $25,000

START-UP NY Location: UB Gateway Building

Square Footage: 250

Jobs: 10

IFYE Association of the USA is a not-for-profit international exchange program that will move its corporate headquarters to Buffalo and which offers inbound and outbound exchange program opportunities for young adults. Alignment with UB: The IFYE Association will provide travel scholarships to UB's Exchange Programs. The company's executive director will provide lectures, seminars and mentoring to students.

Vader Systems LLC.

Type of Company: Start-up business

Capital Investment: $1,390,000

START-UP NY Location: Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Innovation Center

Square Footage: 3,500

Jobs: 15

Vader Systems is a manufacturer of high volume direct-to-metal 3-D printers using the company's proprietary liquid metal jet printing technology. Alignment with UB: Vader Systems is developing its prototype working with UB researchers and UB's TCIE.

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Source: Targeted News Service

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